In the debate on biosafety considerations of the Genetically Modified (GM) crops and their impact on human health and environment, Bt-Cotton has garnered maximum publicity, positive and negative. The first GM crop officially approved in India in 2002 has been related to an increase in the spate of farmer suicides in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, while on the other end of the spectrum, the ‘success stories’ show an enhancement in the yields.
In Andhra Pradesh, around 9 districts including Adilabad, Khammam, Guntur and Warangal cultivate the Monsanto variety of Bt-Cotton. While scientists rule out any ‘side-effects’ of cultivation of GM crops or consumption, the NGOs and seed company have been at loggerheads on claims and counter-claims on the yield and farmer profits.
The Bt-Cotton seeds were introduced in the market at the price of Rs. 1,500 per bag of 450 gram, almost four-times the price of local varieties.
The government had to step in to regulate the prices and cut them down by half through the essential Commodities Act, a step which ensued in a legal battle between the parent company Monsanto and the Andhra Pradesh state government.